Gilead's hepatitis C drug, Solvaldi, sales have really taken off. Analysts are predicting megablockbuster status -- with high predictions of as much as $8 B in annual sales by as early as this year. To say this product has hit a homerun is a vast understatement. Certainly, it looks like real vindication for Gilead's management to have bought Pharmasset at such a steep premium.
Success intensifies competition of course -- and there are other major competitors in the hepatitis C race. These include Roche, Merck and Idenix among others. Roche may be more guilty of sour grapes than anything. They had a previous stake with Pharmasset but gave up too early perhaps. Merck also put in a claim for up to 10% of Solvaldi's future sales but Gilead has countered with a suit. We'll have to see how that proceeds on its merits.
The biggest potential wrench likely comes from Idenix. It has filed suits for patent infringement against Gilead in France, Germany and the UK based on some of its IP that just issued in Europe for use of nucleoside drugs. It has two more suits pending in the US since December 2013. Gilead for its part has remained mostly silent other than saying it believes the suits to be baseless.
Again, the merits will play out in court. And we may be in for some juicy cross licensing or other settlement talks to allow parties with solid interests to share in the spoils with some sort of equitable formula. With $8-$9 B (Lipitor type sales!) at stake, there will be plenty of will to see this play out in court by those looking in at the Gilead singing cash registers. See Fierce Biotech.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Mar 14th 2013.